Setting up your online store and getting your first paying customer can be an immensely rewarding experience. However, irrespective of how much effort and time you have put into setting up your online store, an unfortunate reality is that it may be challenging to attract buyers to your website and stand out from other online stores. But don’t despair, with the right digital marketing strategy you are destined for success.
While there are a number of paid digital marketing avenues to pursue that may offer a quick turn around, such as paid ads on Google and Facebook, it’s essential to dedicate a good portion of your marketing efforts into developing a good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy to ensure that your ecommerce store can be found organically and has longevity on the World Wide Web.
By implementing the five tips below you will be on your way to developing a fail-proof SEO strategy.
1. Know your target audience
This may sound like an obvious point, but it’s one that is often overlooked. As part of your initial market research, you should have already done a thorough investigation to determine who your target market is and how to effectively market to them.
Based on your market research, you should be able to answer the following:
- Who is your target audience? This includes their age group, gender, interests and location.
- What are they searching for? This is important for determining the keywords that you should use to reach them.
- Why are they searching? Find out what solution they are looking for and how can you help them.
- Where are they searching? This relates to their preferred platform so that you can use it to reach them, for example search engines and social media.
- How are they searching? This will determine what devices you should optimise your website for.
The importance of these points will become more apparent in the steps below.
2. Optimise your website
Even if you have the greatest and most unique range of products on your website, you won’t get anywhere without optimising it for both search engines and buyers (these two essentially go hand-in-hand).
Is your website searchable?
The first step is to make sure that search engines can find and understand your website by including the right components on your website. This includes the right keywords (you should have a list of these from doing market research), a sitemap (a list of pages on your website) and a schema markup (code that tells search engines more about your website). By including these things, search engines will be able to understand your website’s content to crawl, process and index it so it can display in relevant search results.
Is your online store optimised for mobile devices?
For both SEO and a positive user experience, it’s important that your website has a quick loading time, which is determined by how large your images are, code quality and who is hosting your website. With the majority of South Africans now using their mobile device to search for and buy products online, it’s also vital that your website is optimised for mobile phones. Google’s Mobile Friendly Test is a great tool to test this.
Is your online store user-friendly?
Buyers should be able to find whatever they are looking for with as little effort as possible, so there should be a good menu structure, internal linking and a logical flow. Once shoppers find a product they want to buy, there should be a seamless checkout process and a secure payment process they trust. By integrating PayFast into your ecommerce website, you’ll be able to offer your buyers a variety of popular payment methods, including credit cards, Instant EFT, Masterpass, Mobicred and more, giving them both convenience and peace of mind that their banking details will be safe.
3. Create quality content
Even though you may think that having high quality images of your products is enough, an online store (or any website for that matter) is nothing without good content. Content optimisation entails writing and publishing content that is relevant and informative to prospective buyers, as well as accurate. For example, it should clearly describe what your product is and how it can be used.
If you have the time and resources at your disposal, it’s an excellent idea to create a blog where you can publish relevant pieces every few weeks to help increase your credibility and authority in your ecommerce field. You can publish blogs about new products being listed on your store, and even weigh in on different trends with an angle of promoting the value of your products.
Make sure to include your keywords through your website copy, including page titles and metadata descriptions, to improve your SEO ranking and to attract visitors and buyers.
4. Promote your content
Once you have online copy that you are proud of, then it’s time to promote and share it on the platforms that your customer base is most active on. For example, share new products and blog posts on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages and run competitions to encourage engagement. The end goal here is to attract visitors to your site and convert them into customers.
Make sure that the content on your website is easily shareable by adding social media ‘share now’ buttons on each page, and it’s also worthwhile adding a comments section where buyers can leave feedback and reviews of products. This is a great way to build trust and consumer loyalty to your brand, because customers that leave a review are likely to be returning customers.
5. Test, monitor, revise, implement, repeat
If you’ve managed to complete each of the steps above then you deserve a pat on the back. Now it’s time to monitor everything you’ve implemented and to see what has and has not been working. Don’t be scared to play around with different versions of things to see what works best, and then implement the necessary changes of improvement. It’s important to decide on clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so that you can effectively measure success and clearly see if you are meeting your goals. These can be the number of page visits, conversions or number of sales (even these KPIs can be tried and tested).
Running an ecommerce store can be challenging, yet immensely rewarding if you get it right. Just remember to keep yourself motivated and to not shy away from testing and implementing new ideas and techniques to boost your SEO and visibility to online shoppers.
For more hands on SEO tips and tools, read our blog about starting an online business: digital marketing.